Over half of Right to Buy homes in Tower Hamlets now privately let

By Rob Virtue on January 14, 2014 11:00 AM |

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A report has called for urgent reform of Right to Buy after it was shown 36 per cent of council houses sold through the scheme are now being let by private landlords.

And the issue is even more of a problem at poorer areas such as Tower Hamlets, where currently half of those homes are being privately rented.

John Biggs, Labour's London Assembly Member for City and East, said the issue has increased the housing benefit bill and led to more Londoners being forced into the "under-regulated private rented sector".

"This shows that Right to Buy is poor value for money to taxpayers," said Mr Biggs. "Not only did they pay to build the home in the first place, they then subsidised the considerable discounts offered to tenants and then missed out on the rental income that would have covered the build costs.

"Now, we have the indignity of London boroughs renting back their former council homes at higher market rent levels, once again costing taxpayers through the nose."

The report, From Right to Buy to Buy to Let, is calling for the introduction of a new system where local authorities retain a share of the property and for mandatory covenants on all those properties so they cannot be rented privately.

It also calls for replacement homes to be built for each home sold, mirroring the rent, size and specifications.

Mr Biggs added: "Right to Buy has played a central role in causing and exacerbating the current housing crisis.

"Future governments must recognise that the right of a council tenant to buy their home at a discount, subsidised by other taxpayers, cannot be at the expense of the right of the vast majority of people to have a decent, affordable home to live in."

In Greenwich, 34 per cent of former council homes are being privately let, while the figure in Newham is 26 per cent.

At 50.5 per cent Tower Hamlets has the highest percentage in the whole of London. In total, 8,697 of council houses in the borough have been bought under the Right to Buy scheme.

Meanwhile, complaints against private sector landlords have increased 47 per cent since 2008.

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